The turkey has been carved, the side dishes have been passed around, & the pumpkin dessert has been devoured. Now what? Once Thanksgiving has come & gone & your fridge is full of leftovers, many of us are left asking ourselves how should we use up all of those delicious Thanksgiving leftovers?
While you can’t really go wrong with a classic turkey sandwich or reheating all of your leftover goodies for a second (or third or fourth) helping of your Thanksgiving favorites, there are a few recipes you can make to completely transform your Thanksgiving leftovers into a whole new dish.
How long do Thanksgiving recipes last in the refrigerator or freezer?
Before we dive into all of our go-to Thanksgiving leftover ideas, we have to share a bit of information regarding two of the most common Thanksgiving leftover questions:
- How should you store your Thanksgiving leftovers?
- How long are Thanksgiving leftovers good for?
The answer: First in regards to storing your leftovers, you probably have less time than you think to get that extra turkey into the fridge! Once you serve your turkey you have about 2 hours before you should move the leftovers into the refrigerator to prevent them from spoiling. So before you take that post-Thanksgiving feast nap, grab your favorite airtight containers & get that leftover turkey in the fridge.
Once refrigerated, you can enjoy your leftovers safely for 3-4 days after they are originally served or you can freeze your leftover turkey & keep it for about 2 months in the freezer.
Turkey Storage Tip: You may have to use a few storage containers if you have a lot of leftover turkey. Turkey should only be stored about 2 inches deep in the container for optimal cooling & safe refrigeration.
Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas
These are our go-to recipes for turning leftover Thanksgiving turkey into something new, so you’ll never have to ask “What should I make the day after Thanksgiving?” ever again! Keep the comfort food vibes going with these turkey leftover ideas:
- PUT YOUR SKILLET TO WORK. With a satisfying Skillet Pot Pie filled with all sorts of comforting goodness – sure to make your mouth water.
- BREAK OUT THE SPICES. & add some heat to your leftovers with some MEGA flavorful Chili recipes.
- AMP UP A CLASSIC LEFTOVER TURKEY SANDWICH. With an ULTIMATE Grilled Cheese Turkey Sandwich – full of autumn flavors!
- ADD IN SOME GREENS + GRAINS. A hearty & nutrient-dense Autumn Grain Bowl with loads of good-for-you ingredients & a cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette on top.
- GO TEX-MEX. Turn your turkey extras into easy Weeknight Enchiladas that will fill you right up.
- OR KEEP THINGS LIGHT + COZY. With tons of Soups sure to warm you up from the inside out!
We can’t wait for you to try these leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipes. ♡ Read on for more details about each of these recipes or click through the link under each for the full recipe details!
Skillet Chicken (or Turkey!) Pot Pie
The PWWB Community LOVES this Chicken Pot Pie – so why not mix things up with your holiday leftovers and create a Thanksgiving leftover pot pie with your turkey instead of chicken! This pot pie is easy & made entirely in a cast-iron skillet, making it a no-fuss recipe.
Creamy homemade filling loaded with carrots & potatoes pairs perfectly with shredded turkey. Then it all gets topped with an extra flaky biscuit topping with herbed garlic butter – making this skillet pot pie the perfect comfort food recipe & an easy way to use up all of that leftover turkey goodness.
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip Step 2 in this recipe & in Step 5 stir in shredded turkey instead! Easy as that.
Chickpea Chipotle Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Kale
This Chipotle Turkey Chili has it all. It is full of healthy ingredients, ultra comforting, & full of modern flare! Each bite is filled with smoky, sweet flavors & a touch of warmth thanks to a special addition of cinnamon. this is not your average turkey chili!
Autumn Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Gouda & Granny Smith
While Thanksgiving leftover turkey sandwiches are always a classic, why not take things up a notch & really amp up your turkey sandwich game?
This grilled cheese is layered with some of the BEST autumn flavors. Made with hearty whole-grain bread, whole grain mustard, melty gouda, turkey (of course!), & crisp & bright granny smith apples – it is the ultimate fall inspired grilled cheese sandwich. Serve it with a side of tomato or Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup & you’ll have one comforting meal!
Weeknight Chicken (or Turkey!) Tortilla Soup
Simple to make & full of flavor, this tortilla soup is SO delicious & filling. Thanks to tender sweet potatoes & your favorite light beer this is a leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipe you can pull together quickly. Made in only 35 minutes from start-to-finish it is perfect for cold weather nights & repurposing that extra turkey sitting in the fridge!
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip the chicken in Step 3, shred the turkey in Step 4 & add in the shredded turkey goodness in Step 5. Voila!
You could even toss in some of your leftover roasted maple glazed carrots for a subtle touch of sweetness or serve with a leftover Extra Flaky Pumpkin Biscuit & you have the coziest post-Thanksgiving meal!
Golden Chicken (or Turkey!) Soup
Sometimes after a big heavy meal like Thanksgiving you can feel a bit sluggish. Enter this bold, bright & immunity-boosting soup & it will pick you right back up! An entire soup made in only 40 minutes or less & packed with flavors of lemon, ginger & turmeric. This soup has a nice zip but is still really well balanced. This homemade soup is sure to have you coming back for more!
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your leftover turkey, skip Step 1, & ignore the chicken in Step 4. In Step 5, add in shredded turkey instead! Simple as that.
Weeknight Chicken (or Turkey!) Enchiladas
The easiest enchiladas loaded up with bell peppers, sweet onion, black beans, (shredded turkey!), & cheese. Then covered in a simple homemade enchilada sauce. These enchiladas are weeknight cooking magic. Serve them alongside a couple of margaritas & you’ll forget that a part of these enchiladas were once the main dish in your holiday feast.
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: In Step 3, add in shredded turkey instead of pulled chicken to create a turkey enchilada filling!
Cozy Autumn Grain Bowls
If Fall was a salad it would be these Autumn Grain Bowls. Filled with all sorts of fall goodness including kale, wild rice, quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, apple, & smoked gouda. This salad then gets topped with creamy-dreamy cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette for an extra punch of fall flavor! Serve them warm or cold. Plus, they can easily made vegetarian, vegan, &/or dairy-free – these Autumn Grain Bowls are sure to become a new leftover Thanksgiving turkey recipe favorite!
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: These Autumn Grain Bowls are already super customizable. If you want to use up your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers simply substitute Rotisserie chicken for shredded turkey instead. The flavors of this salad go perfectly with turkey too!
Spicy White Chili with Pulled Chicken (or Turkey!) & Beer
As the weather cools there is nothing better than a big bowl of chili! This white chili is the perfect excuse to use up those turkey day leftovers. It has the perfect balance of warm spices, chili peppers, onions & when made thanksgiving leftover-style, shredded turkey! Top it with guacamole & watch the bowl disappear – this chili is that good & will warm you right up!
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: In Step 5, substitute pulled chicken for shredded leftover turkey instead & you are good to go!
Italian Chicken (or Turkey!) & Gnocchi Dumplings
If you want to turn your Thanksgiving leftovers into the ultimate comfort food meal, look no further than this Italian Gnocchi Dumplings soup. The easiest homemade soup made with pillowy soft dumplings, Italian spices & rich parmesan. You cannot go wrong with this soup. Plus, it is a total one-pot wonder (which means less cleanup too!), & it takes just under an hour to make.
How-to Use Your Turkey Leftovers in this Recipe: To use up your turkey leftovers in this Dumpling Soup recipe, skip Step 1, omit the chicken in Step 3, & in Step 5 add in that glorious shredded turkey to your soup. So simple & so so good!
Lastly, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we didn’t mention what we are thankful for & we are truly SO thankful for this PWWB community! Thank you so much for being here & for sharing in our love of good food! 💜
If you give any of these recipes a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
Looking for more cozy meal inspiration & Thanksgiving Leftovers Ideas?
- No more leftover turkey? Check out these flavorful main dish recipes to serve alongside your leftover Thanksgiving sides – PWWB Main Dishes!
- For all of the cozy Fall goodness you can handle, take a look at all of our PWWB Fall Recipes!
- All PWWB Winter Recipes – to help keep you warm & fill you up in the cold winter months!
- All PWWB Soup, Stew & Chili Recipes
- PWWB Sunday Supper & Cozy Weeknight Meals
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